Nifty fifty and four other pieces of gear every aspiring portrait photographer should have


posted Monday, May 16, 2016 at 4:08 PM EST


For new portrait photographers, it can be tricky to determine what gear is "must-have" and what gear you can hold off on and purcahse later. To make wading through the portrait waters easier, Hanssie at SLR Lounge has made a list of five must-have items that every new portrait photographer ought to buy.

Let's suppose you are new to photography and just purchased a kit, be it a DSLR, mirrorless, or other system? One of the first things you should buy for portrait photography is the classic "nifty fifty" lens. Every major manufacturer offers a lens that is right around the 50mm equivalent focal length, and usually at a reasonable priced being that they're so common, so a nifty fifty is a sound place to start.

Nikon and Canon offer 50mm lenses in a variety of apertures with the f/1.8 aperture offering the most bang for your buck. You can buy a brand-new Nikon 50mm f/1.8G AF-S Nikkor lens for just over $200 USD, for example. Hitting the used market will yield you an even better deal and some of the older lenses can produce excellent images.

Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, available for $125 USD.

Other popular portrait focal lengths include 85mm, 105mm, and 135mm but you can take great portraits with a wide variety of lenses. You can even go wide if you'd like, although be wary of unflattering distortion if you go ultra wide.

Next up is a reflector. If you don't want to go all-in on a massive lighting system, and honestly, if you're just starting out you probably shouldn't, a reflector is a must-have tool. Natural light produces beautiful results. In fact, a lot of time can be spent with artificial light trying to create a more natural result. You can't go wrong with a purpose-built folding reflector that you can easily stow in a small bag, but you can use a lot of different objects for fast reflection such as newspaper, a bright white sheet of paper, or even some aluminum foil glued to poster board.

For those times when a reflector just won't cut it, such as overcast days or night shooting, an off-camera flash will be really useful. Camera's built-in flashes aren't ideal for creating nice portraits, so getting a dedicated off-camera flash unit will take your lighting to the next level and allow you to get creative.

To see what else you need as a budding portrait photographer, check out Hanssie's full article here!

(Seen via SLR Lounge)